Taking You For Granted

Oliver had always been around, and so he would always be around... Just, as a friend. That's all he was, she swore to herself. But, when something terrible happens she's forced to take a new look at her longest standing, never changing relationship.

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11. love is senseless

"Behave yourselves," Carolyn kissed the tops of both of our heads as we ate our cereal at the breakfast table. Like we were small children.

"Will do," Oli answered and took another bite as she shut the door behind her on her way to work.

He knocked his knee into mine under the table. I knocked back.

It was easy to find ourselves cuddled on the sofa watching a movie. We put on Back to the Future. Oliver had been obsessed with the eighties when we were in junior high, so he had a large selection of eighties films. Not that I complained. I loved those movies, too.

I felt his fingers twirling themselves into my hair.

"Let me know," his voice sounded awkward and unsure, "if this is weird. I've just always wanted to, um, play with your hair like this."

"It isn't weird, it feels nice," I assure him.

He continues to twist, braid, and knot my hair, then run his fingers through to loosen it again.

"Do you want to go on a date with me today?" He asked.

"I would love to," I smiled and turned to face him. "What did you have in mind?"

"I thought we could go to dinner," he smiled. "Then, maybe we could go to that café downtown. I heard they're having live music play every night during spring break."

"That sounds like a good date," I said. "When should we leave?"

"I guess around five," he suggested.

"Well, we have tons of time until then," I teased. "Whatever should we do to kill it?"

"Oh, well, I wouldn't begin to know where to start," he joked, but he pulled me into a kiss.

I let myself melt into the kiss. It was like he'd finally given himself permission to enjoy kissing me. To stop treating me like glass.

It was a slow kiss, one meant to savor. He smiled into it. And, as much as he was more sure of himself in kissing me, he was still gentle.

My mind flashed to him asking if he could kiss me a week ago.

Then I thought of how Eddie hadn't asked permission. How he had been so rough with me that he tore my dress all the way up.

Before I knew it, I had stopped responding to the kiss. I was quivering.

"What's wrong? Did I do something? Did I hurt you? Did I go too far?" He was a nervous mess of concern and anguish over me.

I shook my head, "I'm fine. I just... Eddie's a real douchebag, you know? And you're just so good to me. My mind went somewhere dark for a moment, but I'm okay. I promise."

"We can stop if you want," he suggested.

I shook my head.

"I'm sorry I ruined the moment," I sighed.

"You didn't," he ran his hand through my hair. "Nothing is ruined."

I nodded my head and closed my eyes, but all I could see was Eddie's smug face. I turned and sat up.

"I'm not feeling well," I said, my voice weaker than I wanted it to sound. "I'm going to take a shower."

"Take your time."

In the shower I tried to wrap my head around what was going on, well, in my head. To no avail, really.

I was determined that Eddie would have zero power over me and my emotions.

Why was he in my head when I was happy?

Why did my brain have this impulse to compare what's good to what's bad. It was imbecilic.

What was the point?

Oliver good. Eddie bad. The two ideas were facts, separate from each other. As much as my heart new that, my stupid subconscious seemed to have other ideas.

When I finished, I took a moment to blow my hair dry - something I never bothered to do. Then I put on makeup - something else I rarely made time for outside of theater.

I changed into jeans and a tshirt before heading back down the hall. I found Oliver in the kitchen making lunch.

"I thought peanut butter and banana sandwiches might cheer you up a bit," he said as he presented me with a plate.

He really was too sweet.

"Thank you," I took the plate and sat at the table.

"Nope," he laughed as he swiped the plate away. "We're going to eat outside. The day is too gorgeous to waste indoors."

We ate lunch on the back porch before climbing up into the treehouse that had been built for the kids that lived in this house before Oliver's mom bought it.

"You never really did anything with this place," I observed aloud.

It was blank.

"Yeah, I guess I thought I was too old for it by the time we moved in," he sighed. "Boy, I was lame."

"Was?" I repeated.

"Hardy har," he joked. "Joke is on you for picking a lame boyfriend."

I cringed. It was hard to get used to that word, but it seemed to come so naturally from everyone else's mouths.

"Still sounds weird, huh?"

I shook my head, not to disagree. Just because it was silly.

"That is what we are, right?" He asked, and for a moment I was hurt.

"I'm just clarifying. I'm so used to this being one sided."

"Yes, that's what we are," I scoffed, but bridled myself a bit. "I'm not so cruel as to use your feelings for me to... to placate myself."

"I'm sorry, I just..." he put his face in his hands. "I just want to be sure. Sometimes I feel like I'll wake up from this dream. Or that I'll freak you out because I'm way more into you than you are into me."

I reached over and pulled his hands away from his face so that I could look into his eyes. It dawned on me then that his eyes weren't simply brown. They had some green to them, some gray, too. His eyes were hazel.

"I am really into you," I assured him. "Here lately, I can't look at you without getting nervous. You're wickedly handsome, and I can't help feeling foolish for admiring you so much now when we've known each other for so long. I feel like an idiot for having missed out for so long, but I also know I wasn't really capable of appreciating you back then like I do now. And I get scared that we're moving too fast, but my heart's telling me we've wasted enough time already-"

He stopped my rambling with his lips. Just a quick, tender kiss.

"Okay, so you're into me," he smiled. "Thank you for telling me."

"I just want us to be on even footing," I said. "We've always told each other everything before things changed between us. I think we should always do that."

"Of course," he agreed.

The evening was nice, so we took the top off of his Jeep to head toward our date. I had changed into a light blue sleeveless dress and pulled my hair into a loose bun before we left. The wind blew pieces of my hair loose as we drove, but I didn't mind. I was trying not to be self-conscious about how pale I looked beside Oliver. My fair skin had only freckled during our camping trip while his olive toned complexion had tanned.

"What are you thinking about?" He had to speak loudly for me to hear him over the rush of air through the cabin of the car.

"Something really shallow," I replied. "The gods of spring break have you a golden glow, but they just sprinkled me in freckles."

He laughed, "You weren't wrong about that being shallow. But, your freckles are cute."

I scrunched up my nose. I never liked my freckles.

"I'm serious. You're gorgeous."

I turned my head away, blushing.

"Love is blind," I shout.

"People always apply that literally," he said in his very serious argument tone that I'd known very well over the years. He wanted to teach and explain something to me. "That's mostly metaphoric. Blind to faults in someone's personality. Blind to bad behavior or tendencies. Blind to vices and excuses. We don't really have that luxury. I was around for most of your worst tantrums and embarrassments."

I rolled my eyes.

"Love is blind isn't all negative ignorance either," he continued as he pulled effortlessly into a parking spot and put on the parking break. "Love being blind helps us to accept each other's flaws, to ignore the minor hang ups, and to focus on what's good. Twenty-twenty vision isn't all it's cracked up to be in love."

"So love is a veil?" I asked. "A trick on the eyes."

He pondered this for a moment.

"Maybe," he conceded. "I'm not sure how to talk my way out of that one without it sounding like I want to deceive you, which I don't."

I laughed at him and got out of the Jeep.

"Let's just table this one and head to dinner," I suggested as I latched the door.

He shrugged and got out, too, heading around the vehicle to meet me. I took his arm and let him lead me to an Italian restaurant that had just opened a few weeks ago.

"Wanted to watch me chop my spaghetti noodles, huh?" I asked.

He nodded.

We had a nice dinner before walking a couple of blocks to a café I'd wanted to try ever since it had opened. Just hadn't gotten around to it.

He held the door open for me to enter. We had made it in the middle of some band's set. I recognized a few people from school, but it was mostly the people who steered clear of Eddie and his friends.

"I'll get you a drink," Oli said and headed toward the counter.

A girl with long pink hair took his order and had it ready within a few minutes. I tried to stay calm and patient while I waited, focusing on the band's performance. They weren't spectacular.

Oli came back and placed his hand in my waist before handing me something blended with ice.

I took a sip. It was delicious, with blended coffee with coconut milk. Just a hint of chocolate and something else I couldn't pinpoint. Macadamia?

I leaned into his side. The music sounded better with one ear pressed close to his chest.

Maybe love was deaf, too.

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